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NV Pride: Rhonda Juergens named Washington Ag Teacher of the Year

Folks in the Nooksack Valley Schools already knew what the rest of the state has now recognized: Rhonda Juergens is the best ag teacher in the state.

Juergens, who has taught at Nooksack Valley High School since 2004, was named the 2018 Washington Ag Teacher of the Year by the Washington Association of Ag Educators during the group’s annual June conference.

“I couldn’t believe I was selected,” she says. “It is something you are very proud of because you know how much time and effort all the other teachers put in. Just to get the nomination and be up there with the other teachers, it was a pretty big honor.”

Each of the state’s nine districts nominate one teacher and the state winner is chosen from those nine districts. For Juergens, her dedicated work to support students was unparalleled. As the only ag teacher in the school, she teaches integrated ag science, environmental biology, floral design one and two, runs the greenhouse, runs the metal shop with a beginning metals and advanced metals class and also serves as the lone FFA advisor for over 50 members.

Doing it all requires dedication. But the students keep her going.

“I will brag about our kids until the cows come home,” she says. “They are the reason you do this. You know how hard they work and just to see the growth they make from year to year, that is why I do it.”

During the school day, while Juergens has her own unique interests, it is the totality of her work that serves the students. “Oh my gosh, I love the plants, I love the biology,” she says. “They just go hand in hand. The greenhouse and the science, that is where my love and passion is, but I have a great appreciation for the metal shop and I love the connection it can give kids. The kids who may not excel in English or history but can come out and just be the star, it makes it hard to say you love one (class) or the other as a little piece of your passion is in each class.”

Finding that home for students to shine is part of what makes FFA a success. She bases each year’s teams on the interest of the students, whether a veterinarian science team, a food science team, a marketing team, a milk quality team or many others. No matter the FFA focus, Juergens, works on her own to organize and coach and networks with local industry professionals so students can connect to real-life learning and relevant workplace information.

“We have been talking a lot about NV Pride and FFA offers that connection for kids who may not have that,” she says.  

From the classroom to the (FFA) club, Juergens puts a constant focus on the students. Others across the state have taken notice, recognizing what folks at Nooksack Valley Schools have long known.